Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid

Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid Sheriff Jim Wilson
On the night of July 14, 1881, Pat Garrett killed Henry McCarty (alias Billy the Kid) in Pete Maxwell’s bedroom at old Fort Sumner, in New Mexico Territory. Over the years, more legends have cropped up over this one incident than all the rest of Southwest history put together. Some claim that a deal had been struck allowing the real Billy the Kid to escape. Others blast Garrett because, according to them, he didn’t give the Kid a fair chance, whatever that means. So let’s try to put this western episode in the proper perspective.

Following that shooting there was never an authenticated sighting of Billy the Kid again. Years later, a Texas resident, Brushy Bill Roberts, claimed to be the Kid. However, upon public examination, he failed to convince the public of that claim. And, remember, this was during the time that many of the New Mexico frontiersmen were still alive, men who had actually known the Kid.

An even more compelling argument can be made for the Kid’s actual death. During his lifetime, the Kid had killed at least three men and had been present and shooting when several other men were killed by the Kid and his friends (though no one knows if Billy fired the killing shots). The last two men to fall under the Kid’s gun were deputies of Sheriff Pat Garrett.

Now, imagine that two of your co-workers have just been murdered during a jail break. What on earth would make someone want to make a deal to let their killer go free? In fact, Garrett had every reason to want to make sure that their killer was brought to hand.

Finally, some argue that the Kid never had a chance to fire his handgun, being shot in the dark and by surprise. Others claim that the Kid only had a knife that he was going to use to cut some meat from a hanging beef carcass. Still others say that Billy wasn’t holding a weapon of any kind when Garrett fired on him. Who cares? Billy had killed two deputy sheriffs, it was time for pay backs, and no sheriff in his right mind would have passed up the chance.

By all accounts, Billy was well liked by many New Mexico residents while Garrett was never held in very high esteem. Regardless, there is no doubt in my mind that the Kid is buried somewhere near the old fort and that he got just what he deserved.

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62 Responses to Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid

  1. Al Denard says:

    There have been more than 800 books and articles written about Billy The Kid. I have read a few of them, and can recall numerous differences in the minds of the many historians. I was a firm believer that Billy The Kid was actually killed by Pat Garrett, and was buried near Ft. Sumner, NM, until I read “The Return of the Outlaw, Billy The Kid.” I, then, became convinced Billy The Kid was not killed by Pat Garrett, an earlier friend of Billy’s, but became Bushy Bill Roberts, and died in Hico, Texas, in the 1950’s. This may also account for why Pat Garrett was never paid the $500 reward. I recall that no one in Garrett’s party the night he visited Mr. Maxwell’s home had ever seen Billy The Kid, so they could not identify the body that Garrett claimed was that of the Kid, whom he had killed when walking into the Maxwell bedroom. They accepted Garrett’s declaration that he was the Kid, and per Garrett’s instructions, summoned the undertaker who had never seen the Kid, to handle the body, and bury it asap. None of the townspeople who could have identified the body were allowed to view it, thereby leaving doubt that the dead man was actually Billy The Kid. Because Brushy Bill was able to recount events that no one but he could have known, much credibility is given for William H. Bonney having been none other than Brushy Bill. You can bet that the residents and merchants of the City of Ft. Sumner do not want further proof that Billy The Kid is not buried under the concrete slab near the outer limits of Ft. Sumner.

    • Jim Wilson says:

      The fact is that Brushy Bill got a lot of facts wrong at his interview with the New Mexico governor. And no one there believed him. You need to do some research.

  2. Wow Sheriff Jim. That’s the first time I have disagreed with something you wrote. Even renowned Old West historian Paul Hutton pretty much thought The Kid had no choice. Considering that Governor Lew Wallace backed out on a deal with The Kid and most of law enforcement was as crooked as dog’s hind leg and owned by The House. The Kid had absolutely no chance of an honest trial.

  3. Wow Sheriff Jim. That’s the first time I have disagreed with something you wrote. Even renowned Old West historian Paul Hutton pretty much thought The Kid had no choice. Considering that Governor Lew Wallace backed out on a deal with The Kid and most of law enforcement was as crooked as dog’s hind leg and owned by The House. The Kid had absolutely no chance of an honest trial.

  4. J.WES HARDIN IV says:

    Kinda thinkin’ Garrett got what he had comin’ too…….slug in the back of his head while takin’ a leak on a back road…….. But I digress.
    Calling Bob Ollinger a “Peace Officer” is stretchin’ things just a mite….Ollinger was a back shootin’ ,horse thievin’ card cheatin’ braggin’ Bully who’d swagger up& downMain throwin his Bowie to stick& when the little Kids would “Oooh & Aah ” he’d smirk& swagger all the more.
    Killed a innocent unarmed man in a poker game, killed an unarmed man in front of his wife& childrenwhen Garrett sent him to serve a warrant when no one else was available,
    Ollinger continually taunted & teased The Kid while he was chained up in jail& when he was cuffed & shackled in transport & when The Kid gave him BOTH BARRELS, Ollinger got what HE had COMIN’

  5. David DeSau says:

    What firearm did Pat Garret kill Billy the Kid and what happened to the pistol Pat Garrett used ?

    • tom says:

      i always believed pat had a singe action army colt in 44-40 cal. that was taken from the gang when they was captured at stinking springs, he also carried some kind of 1873 winchester that was confiscated from stinking springs. some say it was billy the kids own guns but it could have been any one of the other friends of billys. some claim it was O’folliards taken when he was ambushed at fort sumner?

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